The Contribution of Multisensory Integration to Working Memory Performance in children (0-12-years): A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Multisensory integration processing is known to enhances perception, cognition and behavioural abilities though how multisensory processing such as auditory-visual integration compares with the role of unisensory processing in working memory performance (WM) in children from birth to adolescence is less clear. The current work aimed to systematically review and meta-analyse the vast literature associated with the development of multisensory integration (MSI) and WM during childhood (birth to 12-years), to examine (a) how nonverbal and verbal (semantic-non semantic) multisensory processing compared to unisensory (auditory or visual alone) contribute to and correlate with speed and extent of encoding in working memory for both auditory and visual WM; and (b) the developmental changes by exploring if there are similarities or differences in working memory capacity to incorporate MSI as compared to unisensory information across different age groups. A comprehensive search of multiple electronic databases was performed using PsycINFO (Ovid), MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), PubMed, CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of science (ISI) and Cochrane Library. Eighteen out of 3909 unique articles met the inclusion criteria. Results show that MSI is closely associated with visualand auditory WM performance compared to unisensory information “where verbal semantic and nonverbal information are presented’. The faster processing speed of MSI is associated with greater WM capacity performance in late childhood. In terms of age, evidence indicates that timing for MSI is more pronounced later in childhood and that this ability increases working memory capacity as compared to visual and auditory-alone. The limitations and directions for future research are also discussed
Keywords - Multisensory Integration, Working Memory, Children, Meta-Analysis.